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Connecticut houses of worship get money and increased policing to protect against hate crimes

 New Haven's Diyanet Mosque burns in 2019 after a fire police said was intentional.
Lina Baroscak, AP
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New Haven's Diyanet Mosque burns in 2019 after a fire police said was intentional.

The state of Connecticut is giving millions of dollars to houses of worship so they can protect themselves from potential hate crimes or other attacks.

The state first set aside money for houses of worship in 2019, after an attack on a mosque in New Haven. The $5 million approved this week is the second release of funds.

“You know, it just breaks our heart any time that there’s an attack like this, when we see people who are afraid to worship," said State Senator Derek Slap, D-West Hartford, who introduced the original bill. "And we felt that that’s wrong. You know, unfortunately we’ve seen these kind of attacks across the country.”

“It’s so important for us to be able to come together as Democrats and Republicans, bipartisan, to clearly take a stand and say that hate crimes, terrorist attacks, not going to be tolerated here, and we’re all going to come together and do what we can to prevent them,” he said.

The money is also available to non-profits who may be the target of attacks. It’s supposed to go towards infrastructure, including security cameras, bulletproof doors and glass, and electronic locks.

The increased funds come as Governor Ned Lamont has signed legislation establishing a special unit of the Connecticut State Police to investigate hate crimes.

"Hate has no place in Connecticut," Lamont said in a statement. "Nobody should ever have to fear being the victim of a crime for being who they are."

This law also expands the reporting of bigotry by local law enforcement, who would need to report on a broader list of crimes covered by the legislation through a system developed by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council.

“Having a dedicated hate crimes unit within the Connecticut State Police will ensure that these crimes are handled in an investigative manner by expert law enforcement authorities who are provided the resources and tools needed to combat them and bring perpetrators to justice,” Lamont said. “This law creates a uniform, statewide system where hate crime investigations will be centralized."

Copyright 2022 WSHU. To see more, visit WSHU.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He fell in love with sound-rich radio storytelling while working as an assistant reporter at KBIA public radio in Columbia, Missouri. Before coming back to radio, he worked in digital journalism as the editor of Newtown Patch. As a freelance reporter, his work for WSHU aired nationally on NPR. Davis is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism; he started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.